Before 2022 arrived, I had a heaty discussion with my friend on self-awareness. Through our own experience, we observed that self-awareness played a significant role in our recovery journey from mental illness. Unfortunately, we found that many people underestimate the importance of self-awareness. Yet, the enormous sigh was that many people had a misconception that they are self-aware. So, what is true self-awareness, and how can we be more self-aware?
What is Self-awareness?
Self-awareness is “the ability to see yourself clearly and objectively through reflection and introspection” (Ackerman, 2021). To be objective is difficult. We might know ourselves well but are the insights we have are true? According to Dr. Tasha Eurich (2018), there are two types of self-awareness – external self-awareness and internal self-awareness. True self-awareness is those with high internal and external self-awareness. People with true self-awareness are open-minded, clear on their values, and clear on what they want and their goals. Their behaviour aligns with their values.
We need both internal and external self-awareness for improvement, accomplishment, and positive self-development. Significantly, we could find happiness through self-awareness.
How Do We Develop Self-awareness?
Ask Questions and Self-reflection
The easiest way of developing self-awareness is by asking questions. Ask yourself questions and ask others questions. Here are some questions that you could ask yourself daily to begin with:
- Who am I?
- How am I doing today?
- What happened today?
- What emotions I expereinced today?
- When is the moment that I like myself the most?
- What brings me joy?
- Is there anything that I resent?
- What are my fears?
- How do people react to my behaviours?
These questions help us to understand ourselves more through discovering. Write the answers down and reflect on the responses from a third-person perspective. By doing so, we could avoid a subjective point of view. To further explore, try to discuss your discovery with your friends who are willing to listen and share.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of what we are doing and what we are feeling. The practise of mindfulness will boost our mood to decrease depression and anxiety. Eventually, it helps us to concentrate then increase productivity. I had a tough beginning in practising mindfulness. I was rushing to the future and ruminating on the past constantly. I failed many times. Here are the tips that I used to assist my journey to mindfulness.
Begin with a short meditation. The purpose of meditation is to observe our mind and heart. Meditation promotes stillness to concentrate on our mind and heart. If you find it challenging to be still, begin with a 5 minutes meditation daily and prolong the time when you are more comfortable with stillness. Record and monitor your progression.
Three breadth rules
Whenever you feel distracted and emotional, try this out. Pause what you are doing, close your eyes, have a long breath in and smooth breadth out three times. This technique calms us down by regulating our emotions and breathing to feel alive and gain our logical minds back. Then, observe what you experienced and decide the actions to take.
Self-awareness is a skill that is essential in our life, work and relationships. We can develop self-awareness through practising. The skill helps me understand who I am and minimise judgement that leads me to harmful actions for my mental, mind and body. We need awareness to oversee ourselves from others’ perspectives to stop self-doubt. Instead of questioning, “How will people look at me?” let’s begin to ask, “Who is the real me?” and “What are my values?”.
- Ackerman C (2021). What Is Self-awareness and Why Is It Important? [+5 Ways to Increase It]. Positivepsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/self-awareness-matters-how-you-can-be-more-self-aware/
- Eurich, T (2018). What Self-awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It). Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2018/01/what-self-awareness-really-is-and-how-to-cultivate-it